The World Health Organisation (WHO) has acknowledged for the first time that there was “evidence emerging” that the transmission of the coronavirus is airborne, Reuters reported.
The WHO’s admission came after 239 scientists wrote it an open letter claiming that the virus can be transmitted through the air.
Benedetta Allegranzi, WHO’s technical lead for infection prevention and control, said at a media briefing in Geneva, Switzerland, on Tuesday that such evidence was emerging, but it was not definitive. “The possibility of airborne transmission in public settings – especially in very specific conditions, crowded, closed, poorly-ventilated settings that have been described, cannot be ruled out,” she said. “However, the evidence needs to be gathered and interpreted, and we continue to support this.”
The claim made by the scientists contradicts previous evidence that suggested that it was transmitted from person to person through droplets from the nose or mouth, which are expelled when a person with the disease coughs, sneezes or speaks.
The WHO has so far emphasised that the virus can spread through the air only in case of medical procedures that produce aerosols, or droplets smaller than five microns. The global health body has instead promoted frequent hand washing as a means to keep the virus away.